by Wei L. Wang
6 Jul 2008
In today's economy, it is almost certain that you will change jobs many times in your career. Given that you'll be making many job transitions which can advance or derail your career, it's important to make the best of each job change.
1. Are you leaving a job, or moving on to a new opportunity? You need to know what's driving you towards a job change. Is it a push factor or a pull factor? Push factors include unhappiness with your current employer, boredom, or conflicts with your co-workers. These are factors that make you want to leave a job. Pull factors on the other hand, make you want to join a prospective new employer. A pull factor is something attractive about the new job that makes you want to take it on. For example, it could be an exciting new challenge, a dream job, or working arrangement that fits a changing lifestyle. The best job changes are those driven by pull factors. If you are driven to a change by push factors, then you might subconsciously be grabbing at any job that comes along just to get out of your current situation. You could easily take on a job that doesn't fit you. Over time, this will cause new push factors to develop and you'll be looking for another job again.
2. Does the new job play to your strengths? Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it's important to know what they are. It will be much easier for you to succeed if you take on work that leverages your strengths. For example, if you're a detail oriented person, you'll find it easier to succeed at jobs where you need to scrutinize details. Conversely, a person who tends to think in broad conceptual terms would find it difficult to succeed, and might even be miserable in the job. But not everyone knows what their strengths are. Sometimes you just need to try on a few different jobs before you discover yourself and what you're good at.
3. Are you taking on the job to build your resume? Are you taking a job just to build experience, or because its offered by a brand name company? There will be times when it is necessary to do this for career development, but you should be consciously aware that you are doing this. The danger is when the experience/brand name is subsciously clouding your judgment, and the work starts to look attractive even though it may not be what you're suitable for. If this happens, there's a good chance you won't enjoy your work and you'll be looking for another job soon. But if you know that's what you're getting yourself into, then you'll find it easier to handle the challenges that come along because you can see it as a necessary part of your career growth.
4. Are you attracted to the money and prestige of the new job? Does the new job come with a fancy title or a big salary jump? If yes, then be careful that your judgment hasn't been clouded by the allure of power and prestige. Make sure you keep your head clear and see if the job is suitable for you, and be sure that you're comfortable with the work you're being asked to do.
5. Are you clear about your new job? Don't be misled by titles, because different companies could use the same title differently. For example, a business analyst in one company might take on the role of an IT project manager, whereas another company's business analysts may be focused on business issues. Don't make assumptions about a new job. Make sure that you understand your duties, who you report to, and what your new work environment is like. You should also be wary if the hiring manager can't give you a clear job description. This happens more often than you think, especially at smaller family-run businesses. It could be an opportunity for you to carve out your own role, or just as likely, you could be in for a hard time as your authority and responsibilities are not clear to your co-workers.
Article Copyright © 2008: Wei L. Wang